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Murderer of hairdresser ex-girlfriend arrested beforehand for attacking her

Published 24/11/2015

Asher Maslin stabbed his ex-girlfriend Hollie Gazzard to death at the hair salon where she worked (Gloucestershire Police/PA)
Asher Maslin stabbed his ex-girlfriend Hollie Gazzard to death at the hair salon where she worked (Gloucestershire Police/PA)
A police tent at the front of Fringe Benefits and La Bella Beauty in Gloucester, where Hollie Gazzard was killed

A man who stabbed his ex-girlfriend to death had been arrested previously for attacking her, his mother and two other former partners, an inquiry has found.

Asher Maslin, 24, murdered hairdresser Hollie Gazzard, 20, while she was working at Fringe Benefits & La Bella Beauty in Gloucester on February 18 last year.

The incident happened three days after Miss Gazzard reported Maslin to Gloucestershire Police for the theft of her bank card and money from her account.

In the six years before Miss Gazzard's death, Maslin was arrested 23 times for a variety of offences, including domestic violence, criminal damage, possession of Class A drugs and theft.

He was also involved in 24 violent incidents - three involving Miss Gazzard, 12 involving one former partner, two involving another ex, three involving his mother and four against other unconnected people.

Former security guard Maslin, of Cheltenham, was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 24 years behind bars last year.

Mr Justice Teare, jailing Maslin, described the murder as "merciless", with 14 stab wounds inflicted on Miss Gazzard in just one minute and 52 seconds.

Gloucester Crown Court heard Miss Gazzard ended her year-long relationship with Maslin four days before her death after suffering repeated violence at his hands.

Police were made aware of two incidents involving Miss Gazzard and Maslin, with the first in July 2013 when CCTV captured him grabbing her by the throat.

On February 15, Miss Gazzard called police to report that Maslin had stolen her bank card and taken £300 from her account.

Officers attempted to arrest Maslin that evening but were unable to locate him as he was on a drink, cocaine and crack cocaine binge in London.

He returned to Gloucester and traded in his DVD player for £5 on the afternoon of February 18, using the money to purchase a £3 carving knife from Wilko.

Hours later he entered the salon, demanded to speak to Miss Gazzard and then brutally attacked her.

Maslin's violence against women and contact with several different agencies in Gloucestershire was detailed in an independent domestic homicide review, which was commissioned by Tewkesbury Borough Community Safety Partnership.

Many of his victims routinely refused to support action against him and this may have masked the number and the seriousness of his harassment, threats and violence towards them.

The report concluded that if all of the evidence had been known to any one agency, it would have been predictable that Maslin would at some stage critically injure or kill someone.

However, it was not predictable that it would be Miss Gazzard that he killed.

In addition, the report concluded that Miss Gazzard's death could not, at that time, have been prevented. However, it sets out a number of recommendations for the individual agencies involved.

Nick Gazzard, Miss Gazzard's father, said he believed his daughter's murder was preventable.

"23 arrests over a period of six years with increasing seriousness - that tells you something," he said.

"There was lots of information known to different agencies and when you pull that all together it gives you a massive picture of what this individual was like and with all that, Hollie's death was preventable.

"There were two previous partners who were frightened and abused by him but didn't want to come forward, like Hollie.

"You have got to get these people to come forward and if he had been prosecuted the first time then maybe Hollie's death would have been prevented.

"Would she still be alive today? That is the 64,000 dollar question and it is all about identifying the signs and intervening early.

"Hollie's death was preventable because there was a catalogue of errors that led to it.

"One of the problems we have is that there are so many different agencies and work is needed to pull the communication together.

"The key for us is that the failings have been identified and there is an action plan in place to prevent anything like this from happening again."

Following Miss Gazzard's death, her family set up the Hollie Gazzard Trust, which funds future hairdressers and charities to tackle domestic abuse and crime.

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, head of public protection, said Gloucestershire Police had acknowledged it failings and making changes.

"I think it is right that we acknowledge that we didn't give a good service and for that we are very sorry," he said.

"It is 18 months ago and we have done a lot in that time to make sure that we do our best to ensure it does not happen again.

"We cannot categorically say it will not happen again but we will do our best to make sure it won't.

"Domestic violence is something that society needs to take responsibility for. None of us should accept domestic abuse and when we see it, we should challenge it."

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